This bill authorizes PUC to regulate broadband internet access providers that contract with public bodies, and prohibits a public body from contracting with a broadband Internet access provider if it engages in paid prioritization, blocks lawful content or applications, or disadvantages lawful Internet content.
The FCC Net Neutrality order specifically preempts states’ ability to regulate internet traffic and this bill may face a legal challenge at the expense of taxpayers. FCC said, Net neutrality led to regulatory uncertainty, less investment in broadband, and hampered innovation among smaller ISPs in rural areas, and that capital expenditure in broadband declined by 5.6 percent since Title II was adopted two years ago, which amounted to over $3.6 billion in lost investment.
The state is participating in a law suit against the Trump administration that the AG says they will win and this bill wouldn’t be necessary. Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers is working to find a bipartisan, legislative solution that will protect consumers while not harming investment, innovation, and free-market principles.
This bill seeks to create a state specific regulatory framework, which includes requirements contained in the recently repealed FCC Open Internet Order. This bill threatens to undermine the backbone of Oregon’s internet economy that directs and authorizes the PUC to determine, define, and set principles for the internet. A drastic shift from federal regulation to state authority is not in the best interest of Oregon. PUC admitted they do not currently have expertise in the management, architecture, hardware, or software associated with broadband Internet access service. The internet is critical infrastructure that Oregon has repeatedly failed security audits with no progress towards more security.
Oregon still has areas without internet access as does Eastern Washington and many rural towns provide access through public body contracts. Adding restrictions will put Oregon last for extending access to rural areas. Concerns include that this bill will inhibit the ability to exchange mission critical information during major emergencies and disasters, such as the recent wildfires.